American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
Black Diamond Logo

Bad Weather, Hypothermia, No Experience, Washington, Mt. Rainer

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1980


Washington, Mt. Rainier

Craig Hixon (28), who spent two nights on Mt. Rainier wrapped in a sleeping bag and a torn tent and without shoes, was found alive and well about 7:30 a.m. on Monday, July 2.

“Somebody was looking out for him,” said a National Park Service spokesman, Larry Henderson.

Henderson said a MAST helicopter from Fort Lewis lifted Hixon off the mountain east of the Muir snowfield at 8:35 a.m. Hixon, who suffered possible frostbite, was flown to the Harborview Medical Center, where he was receiving oxygen.

Hixon, part of a nine-person Mormon Church group from Seattle, was found at the 8,500-foot level by a Park Service rescue team that spent the night on the mountain.

High winds and heavy snow hit the party, and the group split in two. Hixon tried to make his way down the mountain with three others—Kent Nichols (19), Keith Fickenwirth (15), and Ken Parkes (18).

All but Hixon came off the mountain yesterday afternoon. Nichols was suffering from severe hypothermia.

The party began a descent from 10,000-foot Camp Muir to Paradise Saturday morning.

Hixon lost his boots Saturday, according to fellow climbers. They had become waterlogged. “Hixon was conscious but hypothermic when fellow climbers wrapped him in a sleeping bag and a torn tent,” Henderson said. “Frankly, the odds on finding him alive were not very good.”

A snowstorm on Saturday and Sunday dumped six to eight inches of new snow and drifts of up to three feet at Paradise, Henderson said. (Source: The Seattle Times, July 3, 1979)


Hixon had no climbing experience. (Source: Larry Henderson, Mt. Rainier National Park—from a newspaper article)

This ANAM article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.